do you want to get well?

(Today is a guest post from Rich Dixon, a new and frequent commenter here. I asked him to help me understand this text. He did. )

Jesus sees a man sitting beside a therapy pool. The guy’s been paralyzed for thirty-eight years. Jesus asks a surprising question. “Do you want to get well?”

I wonder if the man thought it was a dumb question.

I’ve lived twenty-two years with paralysis. If somebody asked if I wanted to get well, I’d think it’s a dumb question. Of course I want to walk again.

This guy already knows exactly what he needs. If he could only be the first one into the water … but nobody will help him. Perhaps this stranger intends to carry him to the source of healing.

I could tell Jesus just what I need to walk again. If I could find the right doctor … if only someone would carry me to the source of healing, some revolutionary medical treatment that mends damaged nerves.

Or … maybe the man heard the question differently: Do you REALLY want to get well? He’d seen the accusing glances, overheard the whispered gossip. Why does he just sit there? Is he lazy, just looking for a free ride?

Maybe he was like people who struggle with addiction or poverty or abuse, tired of asking for help and receiving condescending suggestions about trying a little harder. Perhaps the man at the pool felt attacked and defended himself by explaining that he was doing his best.

Jesus didn’t ask dumb questions. He didn’t make back-handed accusations. His question wasn’t about walking.

Jesus cared about something a lot bigger and deeper and more eternal than physical health. His question wasn’t just addressed to the paralyzed man.

He spoke to those who listened and wanted to learn, and to those who watched and judged and condemned based on their self-righteous concern for religious rules rather than people.

He’s still doing that.

5 thoughts on “do you want to get well?

  1. Mimi Meredith

    I never hear this text without hearing the accompanying soundtrack I’ve created for it.
    Sometimes, I have to remind myself that if I can simply get in–wade into the issue or fear I may be skirting, or go where it is I know I need to go–God’s gonna stir it up and I’m going to be the vessel I’m intended to be.

    Note: the song, just in case the link doesn’t work, is Wade in the Water.


  2. paul merrill

    I love how Jesus cuts through all the layers of stuff we put up. He knew just the right thing to say to meet that man where he needed help.

    And Jesus still does that today, if we’ll listen.


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